McDonald's Grand Opening

McDonald's on Elmira Road in Ithaca held its Grand Opening on Thursday, January 4th, 2018. New renovations were unveiled that modernize and improve the customer experience, and 30 new jobs have been added to the existing crew of 50. Despite a complete rebuild of the location, all interested original crew members were able to be employed at other area restaurants during construction, in addition to undergoing educational trainings to further their skills and job growth opportunities.

At the Grand Opening event, local owner Courtney Feehan was joined by area families, The American Legion Post 221, The Greater Ithaca Activities Center, Ithaca City Councilman George McGonigal, veterans and community members for a ceremonial event, in addition to the announcement of the winners of McDonald's Community Partner Grants.

The American Legion provided flags for the program, and veteran Bill Sandgren led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Sandgren is a Navy veteran, and the Head of Maintenance for all of Feehan's local restaurants. As part of the McDonald's Grand Opening promotions, all veterans received a complimentary hot coffee.

"It was an honor to be a part of the grand opening ceremony," said Bill Sandgren, a former Navy pilot and currently the Head of Maintenance at the restaurant. "Many of our customers know me in my role here at McDonald's, but my proudest badge is that of a member of the U.S. Navy. I commend Courtney on her undertaking of a complete rebuild of the restaurant for better customer service, but also her continued commitment to her employees and the local community."

After the flag raising ceremony, Courtney Feehan awarded $500.00 grants to the American Legion Post 221 and The Greater Ithaca Activities Center.

"On behalf of the Ithaca American Legion Post 221, we want to thank owner Courtney Feehan for having us here today to help official cut the ribbon on the newly rebuilt McDonald's. The American Legion looks forward to a strong partnership with Courtney and McDonald's in the future," said Russ Booth, Commander, and Jonathan Mosher, Vice Commander, of the Ithaca American Legion Post 221.

Kerry Phillips, Deputy Director of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, said "A big thank you to McDonald's owner Courtney Feehan for awarding the Greater Ithaca Activities Center a Community Partnership grant. This is going to be a great help for our Center's programming. We had a great day today celebrating the newly rebuilt McDonald's and helping with the ribbon cutting."

Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler said, "I'm happy to recognize the newly rebuilt McDonald's here on Elmira Road, and thank you to local owner Courtney Feehan for her commitment to providing 30 new jobs to our area. I commend the Ithaca American Legion Post 221 for their participation in the ribbon cutting, and to celebrate our area's veterans who deserve all the recognition and appreciation in the world."

The McDonald's on Elmira Road was completely rebuilt from the ground up, and the new technology and innovations were highlighted at the event. Feehan said she chose to rebuild the old restaurant in order to better serve all members of the community – both customers and the dedicated employees that make up her workforce.

"When you think of McDonald's, many people don't know that the owner is actually a local person – a local business owner. I rely on the dedicated crewmembers of this restaurant, who are also local residents, to run this business and serve our customers. I own 5 other restaurants in the area, and believe in the power of being hands on. Today's event was an important opportunity to literally open the doors to the community, and form a lasting partnership that will continue years into the future. I'm so happy to see our regular customers, meet new ones, and interact with the community that I call home," said Courtney Feehan, Owner of the McDonald's on Elmira Road.

The new construction replaces an old McDonald's restaurant, which has been a part of the Ithaca community for 53 years. The restaurant now features technology that revolutionizes the McDonald's experience. In addition to an updated kitchen and a completely new dining area with self-service beverage area, the new dual-lane drive thru, table service experience in the dining room, self-ordering kiosks, digital front counter and drive thru menu boards, and ability to place and pay for orders via the new mobile order and pay app are the biggest changes for the restaurant.

Customers will still have the option to order as they always have at the front counter, but there are now more ways to order including at the new kiosks and on the mobile app. Customers who choose to come into the dining room will now be serviced by a Guest Experience Leader, located at the kiosk. When their meal is ready, customers will be served at their table for a completely new and accommodating experience.

The drive-thru has also been expanded, from one to two lanes to better serve the high volume of drive through sales, particular during commuting hours as families drive to and from work and school. But most significantly, the McDonald's on Elmira Road will be adding 30 more employees to staff the rebuilt restaurant.

As part of their commitment to enhancing customer experiences, McDonald's across the country are remodeling and updating their locations. Almost 90% of McDonald's in the United States are locally owned and operated. Feehan has owned and operated local McDonald's franchises since 2012.

Feehan also notes that not one employee was laid off while the restaurant was closed for construction. Employees were placed in other McDonald's restaurants in the area, and attended training programs to help them get acclimated to the new technology that the new Elmira Road McDonald's now features. Feehan is committed to seeing her employees succeed, and advance in their careers with the help of these trainings and the opportunities that McDonald's offers.

One employee, James Slater, trained in Horseheads while the Elmira Road McDonald's was under construction. James started working for McDonald's in 2006 as a crewmember, and has worked his way up to the role of Production Manager. Another employee, Andrea Hook, now a General Manager, is taking advantage of McDonald's Archways to Opportunities program, which is an educational program that includes benefits like tuition reimbursement. Damion Hulbert, the People Department Manager, was able to complete both his Organization Technology and General Manager training—he even attended the General Manager Capstone at Hamburger University in Illinois with 2 other assistant managers. Damion started working at the Elmira Rd McDonald's in 2013 as a crew person while in high school. Two other shift managers, Brian White and Cody Frederick completed their shift manager training and attended the Leadership Transitions training class.

"The true strength of the business and this restaurant are the employees," said Feehan. "All of our managers started out as crewmembers and were promoted internally, and as an owner it is my mission to give employees the education and skills they need to move up in their McDonald's careers."

In addition to free hot coffee for veterans, the McDonald's offered a variety of Grand Opening promotions. All customers received a free cookie with any purchase, and those who spent more than $20 were given a $5 voucher for use at a future date. Two lucky customers won the Grand Opening prizes - of an HP and Lenovo laptop computer.